Northern Highlands

This extraordinary funerary site hosts six sarcophagi perched high up a sheer cliff face. Each long-faced tomb is constructed from wood, clay and straw and uniquely shaped like a stylized forlorn individual. The characters stare intently over the valley below, where a Chachapoyas village once stood; you can see stone ruins scattered among the fields today.

Originally there were eight coupled sarcophagi, but two have collapsed, opening up the adjoining coffins – which were found to contain mummies, plus various crafts and artifacts relating to the deceased. Look out for scattered bones below the coffins. Only important individuals were buried with such reverence: shamans, warriors and chieftains. The skulls above the tombs are thought to have been trophies of enemies or possibly human sacrifices.

Karajía is a 25-minute downhill walk from the tiny outpost of Cruz Pata, or you can hire a horse for S15 roun -trip. Minibuses from Chachapoyas travel to Luya (S8, 50 minutes), and then to Cruz Pata (S8, 50 minutes) on a bumpy road.

All said and done, a day tour from Chachapoyas (S80) is the way to go. The trip usually incorporates a visit to the Caverna de Quiocta on the way. Take binoculars and a camera with a good zoom.